Richard Hayes Phillips never intended to be an election fraud investigator. With a background in science, history and geography, he was surprised one day to receive an email asking him to look at numbers from election results from the 2004 presidential election in the Cleveland, O.H. area.
The numbers showed third party candidates receiving more votes than presidential candidate John Kerry, D-Mass., Phillips said.
"I was a witness to a crime," Phillips said. "My mother always said a witness must come forward."
Phillips presented his findings and newly released book "Witness to a Crime" Monday evening at the Schlow Library to a small group of State College residents.
Spending over three years in 20 counties in Ohio, Phillips found countless examples of voting machine error or fraud, he said.
"Ellen Connelly, a candidate running for chief justice, received more votes in southwest Ohio than Kerry even though she only spent five cents per voter in the state and was not well known," Phillips said.
One of the most disturbing pieces of evidence, Phillips said, was a ballot that had a sticker placed over Kerry's name and a new oval filled in to vote for President George W. Bush. Phillips also experienced difficulty gaining access to ballots and voter registration books. These pieces of evidence were shredded shortly before being photographed, he said. Penn State Professor Josephine Dumas said it was disturbing to think of the instances in Ohio as a sampling of what could have occurred across the nation.
"As a citizen, I want to know the kind of problems that occur," Dumas said. "It's important to understand how the polls operate."
Dumas also said that she will be volunteering as a poll watcher in today's primary election.
Poll watchers have played an integral part in past elections, ensuring that poll workers follow proper procedures, Mary Vollero, chair of Concerned Voters of Centre County, said. "They record problems with machines and allow the poll workers to focus on their own duties of dealing with voters," Vollero said.
Students should be prepared to wait in long lines today and be aware of which precinct they belong to.
© 2008 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE